By RACHEL LENZI
In September of 2012, Christina Gullickson scrolled through her Twitter feed, amazed at all the information that was coming to her through the help of a hashtag.
Gullickson, a digital director of mobile and social projects with the Los Angeles News Group, was intrigued by the updates that were being posted on blogs, tweeted by colleagues and chronicled online from the Online News Association’s annual conference.
Immediately, Gullickson knew she needed to be a part of this.
“I spent an entire weekend, soaking up all these tweets and thinking, ‘I wish I was there,” Gullickson said.
A year later, the parent company of the Santa Cruz Sentinel sponsored a contest in which it would select employees to attend the ONA convention. Gullickson campaigned for the opportunity but fell short.
This year, Gullickson made it to the ONA conference Sept. 25-27 in Chicago, as one of two recipients of the Association for Women in Sports Media’s Mid-Career Training Grant.
At the encouragement of Michael Anastasi, the vice president and executive editor of the Los Angeles News Group and an AWSM member, Gullickson applied for the AWSM Mid-Career Training Grant as a means to finally attend an event that not only would enrich her professionally, but would offer her a view into the future of journalism and communication from a digital perspective.
“I’m a big believer in taking advantage of opportunities,” Gullickson said. “And it’s worth doing something to the best of your abilities. If you’re in a career to take advantage of it and to take ownership of it, it’s worth it to get more training and to fulfill your potential.”
Gullickson originally gained an interest in the multimedia facet of journalism as a student at San Jose State University, and helps manage a team of digital producers at LANG who focus on production and social media posting, and helps planning with LANG’s mobile applications.
The ONA conference is geared toward digital journalists and examines new tools, technologies and trends in the industry. The conference also offers workshops, lectures and small-group and networking sessions that cover everything from a crash course in Instagram to legal issues that surround digital journalism.
Gullickson also gained perspective on the current state of and the future of interactive journalism, from digital push notifications on mobile phones to virtual reality.
“There were some things I looked at and thought, how can we implement this down the road?” Gullickson said. “One session touched on three-dimensional immersion sessions that use Oculus Rift (three-dimensional virtual gaming) headsets. Facebook recently bought a company that uses headsets to blockout peripheral vision, and if you open a certain application like a video game, you step right into that. Some companies are experimenting with that in game coverage.
“Seeing something like that gave me a renewed sense that there’s a crazy new feature out there. One speaker discussed that and said, ‘imagine you’re on the field with the players.’ ”
The conference also motivated Gullickson to consider the evolution of the digital aspect of the newsroom.
“I realized over the course of three days that there wasn’t any one session that spoke to me, but everything combined made so much sense,” Gullickson said. “I learned about audiences and the fact that during day-to-day operations, I ask myself, ‘Are we posting news enough, or are we training our staff enough?’ but that I can’t forget about the consumer and what role they play.”
Follow Christina on Twitter at: @cgulltweets